Educate Enlighten Empower Engage

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube

Welcome from the PAN Director 



I hope this month finds your summer going well! As always, PAN has been busy getting to know new members and collaborating with families who are already active in our network. We remain focused on being a valuable service to you. Together, we will continue to advocate for good drug policies.  


The summer seems like the perfect time to share a reminder of how important it is for loved ones to be aware of the many threats facing our youth in today’s drug landscape. This month, we will focus on providing you with advice on how to discuss sensitive drug-related topics with your children, such as the many misconceptions about today’s high-potency THC products. To help us learn more about these issues, we are featuring an article, by Debbie Berndt, Director of Parent Movement 2.0 and Substance Free Athletics, who has been doing this work and has some great tips.  


We also continue to address the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana and are fortunate to have our PAN project partner, Corinne LaMarca, educating our communities and advocating for better laws that promote safety on the roads. In this month’s Driving Change feature, she recaps some of the statistics regarding the dangers of impaired driving that were featured in SAM’s Impact Report


We also celebrate our PANtastic advocates, who have been making a difference in communities across the nation!  


We have continued to push out our campaign against the NCAA’s proposal to remove marijuana from its banned substances list. Please be sure to participate by clicking on the link provided in this month’s National Alerts and Updates section. 


We also continue to encourage readers to participate in, and/or share the Parent Action Network Interest Survey link with your friends, coworkers, and networks. Remember, your participation helps us help you! We continue to meet with those of you who expressed interest in sharing your stories so that we can learn more about you and discuss how we can successfully work together to spread our shared message. 


Please check out our social media posts on Facebook and Twitter for more facts, updates, and information about the health-related harms of marijuana.  


We appreciate all the positive feedback we receive about our newsletter and hope that you enjoy this month’s edition! Thank you for your support and have a safe and happy July! Please feel free to reach out to me with any feedback or suggestions at [email protected] 

With appreciation,

Crissy Groenewegen 

Director Parent Action Network (PAN)

Upcoming Events 

DARE Prevention Conference: JULY 24-28, 2023 | 35TH ANNUAL D.A.R.E. INTERNATIONAL TRAINING CONFERENCE, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA | D.A.R.E. America ( D.A.R.E. will host its annual conference in July at the Tropicana Hotel, in Las Vegas, Nevada. PAN will be speaking at this event on Thursday, July 27th.  

Parent Action Network webinar, Tuesday, July 18, 7:00 PM Eastern. Advocacy begins in the home, and this month, PAN will be hosting their webinar entitled, Healthy Outlets and Resources for Drug-Free Family Time. It will feature Jordan Davidson, SAM; Debbie Berndt, One Choice 5; and Jen Ocasio, New York MHPRC Coordinator. We will be highlighting current trends and data, helping you recognize the signs of substance use, educating about effective strategies for talking to your family about drugs, and identifying reliable and effective resources for help. 

Click Here to Register for Webinar

Monthly Feature

Diving into The One Choice 5: Prevention Framework for Parents 21st Century New Basics

Parent Movement 2.0/One Choice Five 

Debbie Berndt helped create The One Choice 5 Prevention Framework for Parents with the Institute for Behavior and Health.  In addition, she hosts the podcast, What Parents are Saying, part of the nationally recognized Talk. They Hear You. prevention campaign from SAMHSA.  She is also the Director for Parent Movement 2.0 and Substance-Free Athletics, both of which are educational programs designed to help reduce underage substance use through targeted curriculum and messaging.  

We were honored to be included in last month’s PAN Newsletter as a Noteworthy Resource and this month to expand how parents can use The One Choice 5 this summer. 


Summer is a wonderful time to downshift. There are different routines and times to be with our kids in diverse ways. This can make parenting easier but sometimes harder, as time is less structured.  The threat of alcohol and drug use among our kids does not entirely wane in summer, which means parents need to stay vigilant.  


Interestingly, many parents feel ambivalent about underage substance use.  Even if committed early on, when a son or daughter gets to high school, thoughts like these can set in… “ is this really a big deal, I used a little in high school;” “isn’t marijuana better for them than alcohol;” “I’m so tired of arguing about everything, maybe I’ll just ignore her/his looking a little high Friday night.”   


Unfortunately, many mental health issues, as well as addiction, stem from underage substance use.  Specifically, Substance Use Disorder (addiction) is now understood to be a childhood-onset disease, underscoring the importance of both prevention and parental influence against substance use.   


The One Choice 5 is part of the Institute for Behavior and Health’s (IBH) work to normalize substance NON-use for youth, reframing the goal of youth substance use prevention as One Choice: no use of any alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, or other drugs under 21 for reasons of health.  


This goal is a new and clear health standard based on decades of research.  It’s like all other health standards that materialize to protect kids after decades of research and analysis; i.e., wearing bike and ski helmets, wearing seatbelts, etc. But substance use can be harder. Even if not feeling ambivalent, parents can be confused and overwhelmed when it comes to prevention, so IBH developed The One Choice 5: Prevention Framework for Parents to offer a simple yet comprehensive starting point that helps parents understand and integrate prevention into their thinking.  


Of note, marijuana can have uniquely bad impacts on the developing brain and brains in general (see more about marijuana on The One Choice 5 website), but saying, “just stay away from weed, and everything will be okay” is not true.  Use of all substances can potentially hurt young people. 


The curated One Choice 5: Prevention Framework for Parents website provides information as well as reputable sources associated with each point that can be incorporated into parenting tactics right away.  

  • #1 Know that Youth Substance Use is NOT Inevitable – find out how many kids are not using today and how important parents' influence is.  
  • #2 Be Brain Development Savvy – brain-based parenting is a real opportunity given today’s understanding of neuroscience and human brain development. 
  • #3 Be Substance Savvy – the drug and alcohol landscape, as well as usage patterns, have changed since parents were in high school. To have conversations, parents need to know something about the substances to which their children are exposed. 
  • #4 Talk Early and Often – find age-appropriate ways to chat with your kids throughout their lives.  “One and done” doesn’t work. Summer is a great time to get started. 
  • #5 Act Quickly If You Suspect Use – there is much at stake and there is good news for children who stop soon after the onset of use.  The same thing that makes young brains more susceptible to the harms of substance use (elasticity), can make stopping easier and any resulting damage heal more efficiently. 


Lastly, parents can do everything right and their children may still experiment with drugs and alcohol, and that use may turn into real problems for their children and their families. #5 Act quickly if you suspect use” is not intended to trivialize nor imply this will be easy. A child’s substance use can be one of the most difficult things a parent encounters.  Our hope is to increase the number of parents intentionally working to help their kids navigate away from drugs and alcohol as early as possible.  

Doing It Right!

We want to congratulate the policymakers, leaders, and advocates who fight against all odds to oppose legalization in their communities and states and/or advocate for changes to existing policies that protect our youth and communities. 


New Jersey: New Jersey lawmakers are taking steps to address the Delta 8 problem. They introduced a bill that would amend the recreational cannabis law, making hemp products with more than 0.3% Delta 8 THC illegal. 


North Carolina: North Carolina lawmakers defeated the bill sought to legalize so-called "medical marijuana." A special thank you to our PAN advocates who helped with this effort! 


Virginia: Governor Glenn Youngkin has stated that the sale of marijuana will remain prohibited as long as he is in office. “Governor Youngkin has stated that he is not interested in any further moves towards legalization of adult recreational use marijuana”.   Click here to send a quick thank you to Gov. Youngkin for putting public health and safety first in the Commonwealth. 

National Alerts: NCAA, SAFE Banking, Farm Bill

Congress Rejects NDAA Amendments Allowing Use of THC Drugs by Military Recruits: The U.S. House of Representatives rejected amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have risked service members' health and safety by ending drug testing for THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Congratulations to the SAM Government Affairs Team for keeping all marijuana and psychedelic amendments out of NDAA. Dr. Kevin Sabet stated, "We are encouraged that Speaker McCarthy and members of the House Rules Committee looked at the law, the medical science and the data associated with today’s high-potency THC drugs and rejected these irresponsible policy proposals."


NCAA: Parent Action Network has launched a letter-writing campaign to the National Collegiate Athletes Association (NCAA) Board of Governors, the administrators of Divisions I, II, and III, and the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS). The NCAA has proposed removing marijuana from its list of prohibited substances. We encourage you to join us in this campaign to oppose this proposition. We need to send a clear message to the NCAA that given the negative effects of marijuana on physical and mental health, it is necessary to continue to test for marijuana and all mind-altering substances. To participate in this call to action, please click here.


The SAFE Banking Act: The profit-driven marijuana industry is lobbying for the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would grant the industry access to the federal banking system and institutional investors. This bill would permit banks to be out of compliance with federal law, while opening the doors to Wall Street investment into the marijuana industry. If passed, this bill would accelerate the creation of the next Big Tobacco––it is all about maximizing profits while ignoring the harm to public health and safety. Our CEO, Dr. Kevin Sabet, eloquently testified against the bill at the Senate hearing and was touted by Marijuana Moment as the “anti-marijuana legislation warrior”! To contact congress in opposition, please click here: Please contact Congress and tell them to oppose the SAFE Banking Act! 


2018 Farm Bill Review: This bill will be up for its 5-year review very soon. Congress can close the Delta-8 loophole by clarifying the hemp legalization provisions to ban the manufacturing or sale of intoxicating or psychoactive hemp-derived compounds. Please urge your Representatives and Senators to support closing the loophole!

State Alerts And Updates


Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed bill 6699, now PA 23-79. This is our bill to increase HWL's and requires all hemp-derived products (deltas, etc.) to only be sold in licensed marijuana stores. A negotiated bill that includes some concerns, such as allowing advertising by a person providing "professional services", no HWL's on ads, and a municipality can permit a store closer than 1500-feet from schools, churches, etc. 


Maryland: If you live in Maryland and would like to advocate to ensure good regulatory and enforcement practices, John Daviau, Director of State and Local Affairs for SAM, is facilitating a monthly Zoom meeting to address issues such as prohibiting commercial sales in your community, mandatory testing for marijuana in crashes and road fatalities, and connecting the dots between health issues, resources, and lack of enforcement and the black market. To join this group, please contact John at [email protected]

Pennsylvania: Sens. Dan Laughlin (R-49) and Sharif Street (D-3) have introduced bipartisan legislation, Senate Bill 846, to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. Laughlin stated that marijuana legalization is supported by an “overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians” and decision-makers “ to legalize adult-use marijuana. If you are a Pennsylvania resident and would like to join SAM and PAN in advocating against this bill, please contact either Crissy Groenewegen at [email protected] or Bronwen Skinner at [email protected].

Nebraska: Laurie Gundersen, a Nebraska Parent, will be hosting a three-night virtual webinar speaker series entitled Anthem of Hope. The series on mental health will be livestreamed on Hope Presbyterian Church's YouTube Channel, so all newsletter readers across the country can tune in to any or all of it.  Night One, July 17, 6:30 pm CST, will include Lorelle Mueting, who will discuss the link between drug use and mental illness. 

PANtastic Shout-Out! 

This month’s Pantastic shout out goes to Johnny’s Ambassador’s, an organization led by Laura Stack. Not only did she lead the charge on National Marijuana Facts Week from July 4th through July 10th, but she hosted the Second Annual Youth Marijuana Prevention Conference, which strategically took place on Monday July 10 (7/10, or “oil” spelled upside down, has become an unofficial holiday, like 4/20, for concentrates). The in-person conference also had more than 100 virtual attendees. She hosted an incredible line-up of speakers, including, Jo McGuire, Dale Quigley, Crystal Collier, Julie Dreifaldt, Ben Cort and so many others. SAM’s very own Executive VP, Luke Niforatos, and PAN Director, Crissy Groenewegen, served as this year’s sponsors. 


Another shout-out to our awesome PAN advocates who have responded to our Action to keep marijuana on the NCAA’s list of banned substances! So far, over 200 of you have taken action and sent more than 6,000 emails! This advocacy opportunity is still open if you would like to join in and protect our college athletes.  


Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Chamber of Commerce deserve a shout-out for their work to keep marijuana legalization off the 2024 ballot. “In short, the Adult Personal Use of Marijuana amendment asks voters to make consequential changes to Florida’s Constitution yet is not honest with them about what those changes would be,” the attorney general’s office said. “The initiative should be stricken.” Likewise, the Chamber of Commerce submitted a separate brief that challenges the constitutionality of the initiative by arguing that it violates a single-subject law for ballot measures. The chamber said that the proposal “impermissibly embraces the dual subjects of decriminalization and commercialization of recreational marijuana.” 

Just To Be Clear...

Marijuana businesses have been cheating on their lab testing in the state of Colorado, causing potential public health risks.  

Watch for the growing market of THC analogues, which are available online on sites like this one. These products are made from derivatives of marijuana, including Delta 8, THCA, HHC-P, THC-P, THC-B, and others.  

Noteworthy Resources

*Special Note: Some of you might recall that we have been working to make PAN’s website more functional; we are excited to announce that PAN will soon have a home on the SAM website. Given the joint work we do, this makes the most sense in serving our network most efficiently. Please look out for an email to announce the official launch of PAN’s new webpage in the coming weeks.  


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): This website has a myriad of information on substance use and mental health issues. It also provides valuable resources for families and communities, as well as the "Talk. They Hear You" series. 


If you missed our June webinar, Grassroots 101: Amplifying Your Voice, you can view it here.  Thank you again to our guest presenters, John Daviau (SAM), Marcia Lee Taylor (Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions), Heidi Anderson-Swan, and Darryl Rodgers for a great introduction to grassroots advocacy!  

Driving Change

Driving Change from the Back Seat

By Corinne LaMarca

Arm yourself with information to protect your family: Knowledge is power and early intervention is essential 

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) recently published a new Impact Report about the growing commercialization and legalization of marijuana. After revisiting the effects that these policies have had in many states, the report highlighted several areas of concern, such as the sharp increases in THC- related addictions, medical emergencies related to THC use, the growing drugged driving epidemic, and dangerous outcomes for youth.

As many of you can guess, because it has affected me and my family personally, my focus will be on the driving portion of this report. Most of us travel on roads in one way or another, which is why marijuana-impaired driving can affect you as well.

Many of the statistics referenced were directly and indirectly related to road safety. One of the greatest changes the SAM report showed is that average potency of marijuana flower (the type smoked in joints) has greatly increased from 3.75% THC in 1995 to 15.80% in 2018, meaning today’s marijuana is much stronger than it used to be. Concentrates, including the type that is vaped, are often above 90% THC. The use of high-potency products is associated with the development of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, and schizophrenia.

Mental health is also closely related to safe driving and is required to drive defensively and safely. Marijuana impacts individuals in several ways since it not only affects the ability to perceive and react to a situation, but also the ability to make sound judgments. Statistics in Colorado confirm that more people are driving under the influence of marijuana. The report states that among Colorado drivers who underwent testing for Delta -9 THC between 2016-2019, 89.7 percent tested positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Perception and legalization are two factors that lead people down the path of harm or potential loss of human life, especially when behind the wheel. 

Speaking with a past user recently, this altered perception of harm was evident, as he insisted “he was a better driver while high on marijuana.” We know this is not true as multiple scientific studies confirm that marijuana impairs driving skills, as cited in the Impact Report. However, this appears to be a common misconception. A 2022 Virginia survey found that 68% of people who used marijuana in the last 3 months believed that marijuana made them safer drivers” when in fact the opposite is often true.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) found that “in the 19–24-year-old age group in a survey, only 63.1 percent believe that driving under the influence of marijuana was extremely or very dangerous while 100 percent of them believed driving over the legal limit of alcohol was extremely or very dangerous." Obviously, perception has outweighed the reality in these above examples.

Legalization is an even more serious matter as it implies credibility and safety. If those who are supposed to be looking out for our welfare say that it is legal to use, then it must be alright, or they would not have given it their stamp of approval. AAA “found that the number of drivers that tested positive for THC after a fatal crash doubled after the legalization in Washington state." Of more concern, a 2020 analysis of crash data in legal states found that if marijuana were legalized nationwide, the US would suffer an additional 6,800 fatal crashes every year.”  

For a long time, our premise for the future was to make our world a better place for the next generation. It is sad to say that the path we are on with the legalization of marijuana and other drugs is creating an unsafe world for them. Telling them that drugs are okay to use and that they are safe when we know, from these numbers alone, that that is not true, is a travesty. Please join me at Jennifers Messengers and other concerned citizens through Parent Action Network to advocate for more reasonable and safer laws that provide a better future for our next generation. 

PAN Survey

As the Parent Action Network continues to build its network, we want to hear from YOU! We want to hear your stories and learn about how marijuana is impacting you, your family, your neighborhood, and our society.  


Please take a few minutes to complete the Parent Action Network Interest Survey so that you can help better the work of the Parent Action Network! 

About PAN

The Parent Action Network (PAN) is an initiative of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, founded by Congressman Patrick Kennedy in 2013. PAN’s goal is to share the voices of experience regarding marijuana risks and mobilize parents and other family members to share and warn about marijuana issues in our communities. PAN regularly engages with families, lawmakers, government decision makers, and the media to ensure that your family’s voice is heard. We are staffed by families with lived experiences of marijuana use detrimentally affecting their own family, and other concerned loved ones who want to make a difference.

Donate to PAN